Video: Louisville fired up over smoking ban

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/12/2005 7:32:05 PM ET 2005-08-12T23:32:05

A two-year, often acrimonious debate finally ended with the city's first “no smoking” ban. It’s a moderately tough curb in most workplaces and restaurants, but not bars.

Louisville once made 1 of every 6 cigarettes.

Councilman and city historian Tom Owen thinks its the latest sign of a significant culture shift.“Tobacco, which was once Kentucky’s ace in the hole is going,” he says.

Putting the breaks on smoking in Louisville plays into a much bigger state campaign to change Kentucky’s image: changing the 3 Bs from Bourbon, Betting, and taBacca—to Building cars, Breeding horses, and Better health care.

But a bigger challenge will be to change some grim statistics. Kentucky has the nation’s highest rate of adult smokers, 28 percent. And while skewed by coal miners’ black lung disease, Kentucky also leads the nation in lung cancer deaths.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who’s also a physician, says with the decline of tobacco as an economic engine, new attitudes are emerging.

“People are a lot more accepting now of the fact that we need to reduce smoking,” says Fletcher.

Despite a 30 percent drop in burly production and a 50 percent drop in tobacco farmers, farmer Paul Hornback says the worldwide market is strong. “Our prices are more competitive and demand for American-grown tobacco is up considerably,” he says.

Some said it would never happen in Kentucky, one of smoking's last bastions, but “smoke-free” has gained a little momentum.

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